East Preston Football Club got their competitive season off to a great start with an FA Cup victory on Saturday.
Hayden Hunter’s strike and Jack Barnes’ second half spot-kick ensured EP sealed a 2-1 home extra-preliminary round win over last season’s Southern Combination League Division 1 champions Saltdean United.
Hunter had fired East Preston into a half-time lead but Andy McDowell levelled things up soon after the restart.
The major talking point in the match came six minutes from time. Kevin Keehan hacked down substitute Ryan Quirke in the area with a spot-kick awarded and Keehan shown a straight red card.
Midfielder Barnes slammed home the penalty to ensure East Preston bagged £1,500 in prize money and a home tie with division-higher Bostik League South opposition Thamesmead Town in the next round.
The two teams battled it out for the SCFL Division 1 title last season, with Saltdean coming away as champions in the end.
EP boss Bob Paine managed to guide his team to a third-placed finish, enough to see them promoted aswell, with the SCFL Premier Division new boys battling it out in this year’s FA Cup.
Many have tipped Saltdean to battle it out at the top this season, so Paine was pleased to score this win over them.
He said: “I’m very proud of the whole squad after this performance. We saw just how much my players have developed in the past year and they put in a very experienced performance for a young team.
“We also had a number of players missing that would probably have been playing if fit and available.
“The squad is looking very strong and this will give me some selection headaches but it’s a great position to be in.”
East Preston started the game well and controlled things in the early stages.
The first chance of the match fell to Jack Barnes, whose effort from just outside the area went the wrong side of a post.
EP went ahead after 27 minutes when Saltdean goalkeeper Rikki Banks parried Barnes’s shot into Hunter’s path and he slotted home from six yards out.
The travelling side were level seven minutes after the break, though, with McDowell to slam home at the far post.
With a replay looking likely, substitute Quirke went down under a Keehan tackle and a penalty was awarded.
Keehan was shown a straight red to reduce Saltdean to ten-men, before Barnes fired past Banks to make it 2-1.
Saltdean threw everything in the final five minutes but the home side stood firm to book their spot in the preliminary round. EP host Peacehaven & Telscombe in the league on Saturday.
EAST PRESTON: Cook; DaCosta, Etherington, Stevenson, Jacob Parazo; Barnes, Searle; Bull, Hunter, Herbert; Huet. Subs: Quirke (Hunter, 65), Heryet (Bull, 74), Purkis, Josh Parazo, Gilbertson, Hallett, Laughlin.
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